North Carolina lawmakers are getting closer to finally passing a state budget, but the process of doing that isn’t exactly transparent.
State House and Senate budget writers have wrapped up their negotiations, and legislative leaders — House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger — will work out the remaining differences between each chamber’s budget proposal in the coming days. Berger and Moore are expected to bring Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to the table for final negotiations this week.
A spending agreement has been months in the making: The Senate passed its budget in early July. The House passed its proposal in August. What exactly have the chambers been doing in behind-closed-doors negotiations over the last few weeks?
“It’s not that we’re in the dark of night with the smoke around us; it’s nothing like that at all,” said Republican Sen. Brent Jackson, one of the legislature’s top budget writers. “It’s just a lot of going through paperwork, and going through each line item and making sure everything is like its supposed to be and the House and Senate agree on things, or don’t agree. It’s really a monotonous, long process.”
Jackson said the House and Senate have been meeting from around 9 a.m. to 7 or 7:30 p.m. every day.
Among the things House and Senate chairs have considered in those meetings and expect to include in the final deal: Expanding Medicaid to include pregnant people for 12 months postpartum.
“We have done some expansion within this budget,” Jackson said. “That is in there.”
But it’s unclear if Medicaid expansion beyond that will be included in a budget deal.
“Anything is possible,” Jackson said.
Hear more from Jackson on what recent days of budget negotiations really look like on our latest episode of Under the Dome, The News & Observer’s political podcast.